In his article Christophobia and the West, (The New Criterion, 21, 2003) Dr. Kenneth Minogue makes a case for the existence of what he refers to as the Olympians. The Olympians by Minogues explanation are those who are both elite and egalitarian. They enjoy a self appointed rationality that the rest of us do not. This is inherent to them; they are graced with it. The Olympian understands that pure democracy is the ideal but until the people are enlightened and educated enough to completely handle or manage this utopian system, then the people must be managed through the laws, legislation and education ordained, designed, or blessed by the Olympians. In the Olympians view the people are frankly not to have much credence given to their thoughts or words. After all, the people, and presently especially those involved with the Tea Party movement, are unenlightened and not yet educated properly to qualify as Olympians. Minogues most telling comment may be Olympians instruct mortals, they do not obey them.
While this paraphrase of an Olympian is not entirely true to the original concept, it makes clear that the Olympians are primarily better than us due to inherent knowledge finely tuned by education, birth and some ether like personal growth that most of us will just never get. Let me hastily add that while this article will discuss recent articles about the Tea Party that seemingly are written by liberal journalist, by no means is the term Olympian intended to confine its self to just a person wearing the label liberal. It can equally be applied some conservative journalist and the vast majority of politicians.
The Tea Party itself is nothing more than a continuation of thought enunciated by Henry David Thoreau, who wrote in 1849 in Civil Disobedience, That government is best which governs least. William Buckley understood this, as did Barry Goldwater. This concept may have actually seen some daylight with Ronald Reagan, not that he scaled down rate of growth. In the 1990s the Contract With America was a continuation of this non-Olympian concept. That contract propelled the Republican take over of the Congress, primarily as a result of the failed Hillary Care. That to was an expression by the people that the government is too big, to intrusive and to inefficient.
It is some what amazing that smart people, politicians and journalist alike, fail to remember what the first and most non-egalitarian Republican President said when explaining that, you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all the people some of the time, but you cant fool all of the people all of the time. The Tea Party is about people who are tried of being fooled and as a result tired of feeling foolish. The tea party can be summed up as a governmental philosophy in one word:
The movement has created consternation, puzzlement and in some quarters even a certain type of fear. Recent elections have contributed to the enlargement of these attributes of consternation, puzzlement and fear: the defeat of Bob Bennett in Utah: Mike Lees ultimate win there; Sharron Angle's victory in Nevada and her quite possible successful challenge of Harry Reid. Browns victory in Massachuttes where the Senetorial epitome of Olympians existed in Teddy Kennedy and Jon Kerry; Rubios insurgance in Florida and Haley in South Carolinia; Rands victory in KY, all have the backing of the tea party and what do they all have in common in one word?
But why would these results create such a furor in the world of print journalism, TV and even the world of two party politics? What is the explanation?
The crux of the problem with many of the Olympians understanding the Tea Party is that the Olympians all live on Mount Olympus and come down only occasionally to visit with, as Bill OReilly puts it, the folks. They simply do not understand -- ENOUGH!
In the New York Times, 7/2/2010, there was an article entitled In Justice Confirmation Hearings, Echoes of the Tea Party. The article was written by Kate Zernike. There was an overall tone that Tea Party members are somewhat sad, almost pathetic people, with no life except to be fired up over the supposed threats to the Constitution that present government presents. In describing the Tea Party members, Ms. Zernike states that, Many supporters take classes about it [The Constitution] on weekends, in the evening or online, sponsored by groups like As A Mom, a Glen Beck-inspired Sisterhood of Mommy Patriots Something about that sentence and the surrounding paragraph convey an image of a lost, confused person looking for a group to join. As the article goes along Ms. Zernike seems to imply that the issues of Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare are settled law and there is no need for any discussion of legitimacy or how they are to be funded in the future. In one paragraph she points out that the enumerated powers of Congress, more than 20 according to her, are more than adequate to allow all of this activity. In two sentences she seems to settle any and all issues of the Commerce Clause.
Yet if one reviews The Constitution, Analysis and Interpretation prepared by the Congressional Research Service, one will find that the Commerce Clause has over 100 pages of discussion in that analysis. (If this amazes you, realize that the 14th Amendment in that same analysis has 365 pages devoted to it). No wonder these mothers take classess and it is this level of effort, this need for so much investment, not in the Constitution, but in understanding its convolution that is in fact feeding the tea party.
The Olympians want we the People to not worry about any of this because with their inherent enlightenment they know best. Dont worry, be happy!
But one might also see the question that may be forming in the minds of the non-Olympians, i.e. the people: What happened to the Constitution? Is Ms Zernike an Olympian? One article may not accurately tell the tale, but one leaves with the impression that she is somewhere up the slope.
A Huffington Post article by NYC political analyst Andy Ostroy clearly states that the Tea Party is simply about racism and nothing more. He quotes Ms. Mayhugh of Jacksonville, Fla., and concludes that because she thinks President Obama is a socialist Muslim, her observations make her a racist. She observes that the President has not attended a church in over a year (I think he may have at least gone once) and for Ms. Mayhugh that may be enough to concern her. Does that make her a racist? Again it depends on where you live on Olympus.
The President and his administrations behavior may have some bearing on her conclusions. His policies led the takeover by the government of 1/6 of our economy; they have handed one carmaker to the unions at the expense of bondholders and essentially socialized another; The government now owns several bailed out financial institutions; the President did not call for a National Day of Prayer. Might these actions color (I hope this is a pun) this womans opinion more than the Presidents skin color? Ms. Mayhugh may believe that citizens should render unto Caesar what is Caesars and unto God what is Gods and that President Obama and the other Olympians have gotten confused about who is who in that passage. Does any of this make her a racist? Only from an Olympians view.
This same Mr. Ostroy wants one to believe that he is an adviser to the Democratic Party. But if thats true, might his views help explain that partys recent electoral setbacks? In another article at his personal web site he states to Democrats about how to spin the Gulf oil spill, they'll need to start dumbing-down their rhetoric so that it's clearly understood by the little guy.
Such comments may display much more about Mr. Ostroys status as an Olympian than any thing any one else could say.
A Newsweek article of Feb 9, Black Helicopters Over Nashville, clearly states that the Tea Party is nothing more than a bunch of conspiracy theorist that are united. In fact that particular article calls the Tea Party members that attended the convention in Nashville kooks. I believe that John F. Kennedy was assassinated by a conspiracy that involved the mob, a rogue element of the CIA, and that this conspiracy was covered up by all of the investigative agencies of the time. While I do not live on Olympus and do not qualify as an Olympian, I am not alone in this belief as reflected by various polls that show that a majority of the American public do not believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Call me a mixed-up kook.
But lets say, for the sake of discussion, I am wrong. Does that mean I cannot have a valid opinion today on the size, scope and intrusiveness, by the Federal government, into and affecting my life If you believe in some conspiracy theory, then you are a kook, and therefore unqualified to have an opinion about the size of government?
Just over the last two weeks there have been a series of articles, first in the Weekly Standard and then responded to by journalist for the National Review Online and the New York Times, where the discussion centered on just what face or faces the Tea Party has or should have. The original article by Matthew Continetti essentially says that Rick Santelli is the public face of hope, while Glen Beck is the public face of negativity. (Yes I am over simplifying, but bear with me!) This concept is then discussed as either having, or lacking, merit by the two other journalists Ross Douthat for the Times and Jonah Goldberg for NRO. The Olympians would make us believe that we must make a choice, if you feel tea partish. Which is it, Beck or Santelli?
Does Enough have a face? If so it may well be the face of Tim Scott or Alvin Greene.
I do not claim to be a spokesperson for the Tea Party, although it excites me politically. I believe government is too big, too expensive, too intrusive and too inefficient. I believe, like Henry David Thoreau, That government is best that governs least. The Tea Party is my opportunity to join with others who have arrived at these same conclusions. In other words: Enough!
Two senators, one I respect and one I have never respected, Lindsey Graham and Arlen Specter, may both qualify. Both have recently demonstrated an Olympian attitude. Sen. Graham (respected) recently said the Tea Party movement will not survive. That seems like a degree of prescience that only a god would have, some one that lives on Olympus. Maybe he was just visiting for a day?
Sen. Specter is such an Olympian that he was able, without flinching, after 30 years to switch parties so he could have an easier primary race. Who but an Olympian could think that they were so important that no one would notice this very public abdication of alleged principal, inherent in his party switching? I personally want to thank all of the democrats in Pennsylvania for doing what Pennsylvania Republicans never did, which was let him retire to Olympus.
I hope this article has made a small case for Occams Razor as understood in its modern, succinct form, often the simplest answer is the best. The simplest answer is that we tea partiers want less government. Less government means less taxes and less intrusion. Thats what we want. I can even put it in a single word answer that might help every one understand.
Please note that after reading this, if you still wonder what the Tea Party is all about, you are an Olympian too.
Keith Baker lives in Hopkinsville, Ky.
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